Photobooks

Christian Wolter: Blühende Landschaften

Christian Wolter: Blühende Landschaften, copyright 2008

Publisher: Kehrer

Texts: Ulrich Schneider

Design: Rasmus Giesel

Language: English, German

 

Criticism of Capitalism as a monothematic listing of industrial ruins. Christian Wolter sets out across Germany in search of failed or now abandoned industrial buildings. At first glance, Wolter shows peaceful pictures of former logistics halls, leisure facilities, freight depots. Can be done like this, it would be quite interesting as a chronological work. He integrates the places into their surroundings, shows a certain sympathy, which even has something magical, unreal about it. Of course it is interesting to be presented with a sober view outside the unspeakable urban explorer/lost places scene. A problem here is the directory, which provides some information about each location. Why the respective location was closed or never built, sometimes there are references to other pictures within the book. Also the absurdity of some buildings and financing is commented. But most of the time this ends in a clumsy criticism of capitalism, which could also come directly from the Taxpayers’ Association or german satire formats. Criticism for criticism’s sake, because it fits just as well into one’s own narrative, which presupposes failure. 


According to this logic, no new buildings should be build, because there would be the danger that they would eventually become ruins. No investments or innovations should be made, because they could fail. This is a deeply german view, which not only wants to minimise any risk, but to avoid it. Following the examples given by Wolter to be quite apt, they may even be justified, but then the medium is wrongly chosen because it remains too superficial. Did the EXPO 2000 fail? At least, exemplary pavilions are chosen here that stand around lost in the landscape and have been robbed of any purpose. But exactly this view shows how narrow it is. Every building has its purpose, which at some point gets lost, does this make it obsolete? Wolter’s comments on the photographs are no better from an artistic point of view. He explicitly describes “the disguised, the hermetically sealed façade, which interests me. Here the flower umbels of the wild carrot sway in front of the darkly oiled wood”. Too much information. Not only does it deprive the viewer of any possibility of interpretation, I also think this kind of information is unnecessary and counterproductive because it directly intervenes in the process of perception. If Wolter had left the illustrations as they were and had largely dispensed with his written comments, a better work would have been produced.